Bryce is a hero to small things. One of my first memories of him was on an early date, at his house, as he made a pasta dish for us for dinner. Abner, his cat, had caught a mouse. Not a small feat, since Abner is partially declawed (NOT under my watch, FYI). It was stunned, and possibly a little maimed, and Bryce found an empty parmesan cheese container and scooped it up, trying to save it and rehabilitate it a bit before releasing it outside (holes were poked). Sadly, the mouse died. And Bryce was visibly upset by this little death.
When there are bugs in the house, he tries to move them outside, even the monstrous wolf spiders that sometimes make themselves visible in our basement. It's like having lurking Shelobs or Aragogs down there, and when they pop up it's terrifying (look them up, they're in the freaking tarantula family and can be big as saucers). But Bryce captures them somehow and gently puts them outside, once the shock of seeing the gargantuan creepy crawler wears off.
The same goes for the chipmunk that found itself hunted by our fully clawed cat, Lucky, in the dead of winter while we were watching The Grey. Have you seen that movie, with Liam Neeson as a sniper hired to protect oil workers in Alaska from territorial wolves? The one where the plane crashes and the wolves hunt the survivors? IT'S INTENSE. Add into that a plane crash scene where a cat comes careening into room, smashing into the TV cabinet for apparently no reason until you realize there's a squeaking CHIPMUNK in your house, and it was too much. Bryce somehow managed to separate our delighted (and then disappointed) kitty from the sizeable rodent, and get it back outside unharmed.
I managed to follow in his footsteps last summer, when Lucky stunned a mouse in the office downstairs and left it for me, only to have it do a Lazarus thing and pop back up as I was getting ready to pick it up with a plastic bag, assuming it was as dead as it looked. Instead I had to get it into an empty blueberry clamshell and set it free outside. Something I probably wouldn't have had the strength to do, pre-Bryce.
On our Vermont vacation, he had another chance to be a hero to the tiny little lives that grace our planet. We were walking around the swimming hole in Grafton, a site that usually is a stone-rimmed hole filled with snow, but this time of year is full of cool water and ringed with daylilies and Adirondack chairs.
We were walking on the shuffleboard pavement, which had little puddles on it because it had stormed just an hour ago.
Suddenly, Bryce said, "Oh no!" and pointed to a tiger swallowtail butterfly, lying in the puddle, completely sodden.
Well, not completely.
I pointed and said, "Look, it's trying to drag itself out of the puddle!"
Sure enough, it was still alive, just sopping wet, and its little butterfly feet were tenaciously trying to drag its heavy wings out of the puddle. It was completely exposed, and seemingly doomed.
But not with Bryce around, no siree.
He found a stick, and gingerly coaxed the butterfly onto it, watching it grasp tightly with its little butterfly legs.
Then he balanced the stick just so on a fencepost, in the sun but protected a bit from hungry birds.
He made sure it was secure, and that the butterfly could fan out without falling off.
The final butterfly-drying solution, with a happy butterfly sunning itself to safety.
He engineered this butterfly to a better outcome, using what I think may be physics, to get that perfect balancing angle.
The next day, coming out of the Tavern from breakfast, we saw a bright yellow tiger swallowtail flitting around the gardens in front of the cottages. I am pretty sure it was the same one Bryce saved (at least I like to think it was, doing a flyby to say "thank you" in butterflyese).
That's the man I married, one who will take the time to engineer a solution meant to save a butterfly from certain death. I think it's a pretty good indicator that phenomenal fatherhood is in his future.